Download Full Text (1.0 MB)


Idea: Integrate adaptive technology into Anatomy curriculum.

Need: Physician assistant departments do not have the extensive labs, resources and instruction time to teach anatomy like medical schools. With faster computers and large data storage on the cloud, interactive technology has become quite useful and affordable. Interactive technology is algorithm-based systems that take advantage of advanced mathematical formulas and machine learning concepts to adapt specifically to individual learners. At its core, such systems are intended to identify what a student does and doesn’t understand, identify and provide content that will help the student learn it, assess again, help again, etc., until some defined learning goal is achieved. One of its greatest potentials is to target instruction at just above the student’s ability level (to challenge but not discourage the student) and at the student’s specific content needs. A recent study concluded that some adaptive systems were nearly as effective as one-on-one human tutoring.

Methods: Access to the LearnSmart interactive technology will be made available to didactic physician assistant students in the Anatomy course. Lectures using the technology will be given as well as class and after class assignments using the technology.

Evaluation Plan: At the end of the course didactic presentations will be evaluated through review of the student’s responses about the course structure and curriculum. Presence of comments/recommendations about the course and usage of interactive online technologies will be reviewed in written feedback from the course. A PA student’s survey at the end of the course after implementation will assess perceptions about the effectiveness and learning outcomes from using interactive online tools. End of course student evaluations about course content will be monitored for depth of reflection and for effectiveness of teaching. Student performance will be evaluated against the other cohorts.

Potential Impact: Interactive technology will assist the learner and will provide effective and affordable tools to utilize to improve learning outcomes. Examples are cadaver labs, histology and CT scan, and Xray imaging labs providing the means to conduct labs without tying up resources.

References: 1) Owens, A., & Moroney, T. (2017). Shifting the load: Improving bioscience performance in undergraduate nurses through student focused learning. Collegian, 24(1), 37-43. 2) Oxman, S., Wong, W., & Innovations, D. V. X. (2014). White paper: Adaptive learning systems. Integrated Education Solutions, 6-7.


Physician Assistant Studies

Publication Date



Keck School of Medicine Innovations in Medical Education Conference


San Gabriel, CA


Online Education, Online Learning, Adaptive Technology, Interactive Education


Medical Education

Using Interactive, Adaptive Technology to Teach First-Year Physician Assistant Students